When Your Workers Are Impaired By Drugs and/or Alcohol

Monday August 19, 2019 10:33

No matter what changes to the law are made, drugs and alcohol impede a workers ability to work, long after taking them.

The effects of being hungover from taking drugs or drinking alcohol becomes a major safety concern for all at the workplace.

What effect can drugs and alcohol have on your workers?

  1. Fatigue
  2. Poor decision making
  3. Impaired vision
  4. Loss of hearing
  5. Loss of muscle coordination

Add loss of alertness and attention to detail, and a recipe for harm or a serious injury is heightened, especially in high risk work - and driving.

It is important to note that both legal, and illegal drugs can have an influence on the ability to work safely.

Can prescription drugs put your workers in danger?

Some prescription drugs warn about not using heavy machinery or driving for a specified period to avoid potential incidents. Such directives need to be adhered to.

Always approach your workers in a respectful manner

To confirm that a person has an alcohol or drug issue needs careful and trained observation in order to avoid unsafe behaviour.  

The respectful manner in which you approach your workers about such a sensitive matter needs to be addressed in advance so as to protect all parties’ long term positions and relationships.

The cost of doing nothing

Non action is just as dangerous.

Doing nothing may lead to a serious accident perhaps involving others.  

While many organisations have in place a company policy and position on drugs and alcohol at work, and may carry out pre-employment and possibly random drug testing, companies do not realise that they can carry out reasonable cause testing.

Did you know you can drug test your workers based on a suspicion?

This is “reasonable” suspicion testing, also known as “cause” drug testing.

It is performed when management or supervisors have evidence, or reasonable cause, to suspect a worker of drug/alcohol use.

Evidence is based upon direct observation, either by a supervisor or another employee.

Signs that alcohol or drugs may be affecting a worker

Can include:

  1. sweating
  2. weight loss
  3. chills or shivering
  4. physical deterioration and/or change in appearance
  5. excessive talking
  6. poor coordination and concentration
  7. lack of energy and motivation
  8. unpredictable behaviour
  9. arguments and sudden outbursts
  10. withdrawal from others
  11. increased aggression
  12. high anxiety
  13. apparent stress
  14. denial of issues
  15. depression
  16. paranoia
  17. frequent absence from work
  18. changes in attitude
  19. poor time keeping
  20. careless and frequent accidents

What can you do?

In terms of health and safety it is important that unsafe behaviour in the workplace is addressed as soon as possible in order to prevent injury.

The most powerful tools you can use to ensure everyone knows what is expected, and the potential outcomes if ignored are:

  1. Management direction
  2. Open communication
  3. Reporting channels without ramification
  4. Education

Let’s face it, we all want to head home safely after work to our families, at the end of a day’s work.

For further information on health and safety aspects, please contact your Securo consultant

Need More Help To Improve Your Health & Safety In Regards To Drugs and Alcohol?

Please contact your Securo Safety Consultant directly or call Securo Head Office on 0800 55 33 44, or email info@securo.co.nz.

(Image credit: nevadaemployers.org)